Disaster relief support services in Australia

While living through a natural disaster can be overwhelming and isolating, there are many organisations, from government bodies to charities, who can help you both on the ground and from a distance.

This can help if:

  • you’re looking for support services while experiencing a natural disaster

  • you’re supporting a friend or family member who is experiencing a natural disaster 

  • you’re expecting a natural disaster and preparing your disaster plan

National disaster relief support services

Australian Red Cross The Australian Red Cross have a range of services for before, during and after disasters that can help with planning, managing and recovering after experiencing a natural disaster. A volunteer-based organisation, the Red Cross offers all kinds of support, both online and on the ground, to help support people going through tough times.

Australian State Emergency Services (SES) The State Emergency Service (SES) is a group of volunteers who act as first responders when there’s an emergency. They help out in all sorts of situations, such as by finding people who are lost or by assisting communities that have been affected by flood, storm, bushfire or other disasters.

Disaster Assist Disaster Assist provides information on how the Australian Government responds to and assists during emergencies. Available support includes financial assistance, emergency accommodation and psychological first aid. 

Disaster Relief Australia Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) is a disaster relief organisation led by ex-army volunteers who work with first responders and civilian volunteers to aid disaster recovery operations in Australia and around the world.

National Emergency Management Agency The National Emergency Management Agency is a government website that helps communities across Australia to connect with support services in their area during a natural disaster. 

Services Australia Services Australia provides support to people affected by a declared natural disaster. They can help you identify whether you’re able to access government and/or state-based support depending on your situation.

St Vincent de Paul Society and The Salvation Army St Vincent de Paul Society and The Salvation Army can also provide assistance to people affected by natural disasters through a range of services, including providing emergency accommodation, food, clothing, and financial assistance.

State-based disaster relief support services in Australia

New South Wales Service NSW disaster customer care can help you find support for individuals and businesses affected by a disaster and help you find your closest recovery centre. They use a questionnaire to help tailor the available support services based on your situation.

Northern Territory The Northern Territory Government can provide financial disaster relief support for residents and offers recovery guidance for those affected by bushfires, cyclones, and floods.

Queensland The Queensland Government offers disaster support and recovery, with updates on current natural disasters. It can also provide guidance on any state support available for the disaster you may be experiencing.

South Australia The Government of South Australia offers a range of natural disaster recovery support services to individuals, families and businesses through Recovery Assistance or free call 1800 302 787.

Tasmania TasALERT and TasRECOVERY can connect you to services before, during and after a natural disaster. The services include financial, insurance and legal support. They can also provide general advice to help in your situation.

Victoria VIC Emergency can help you to find state-based disaster support relief and keep you up to date on any incidents and warnings for your region during a natural disaster. Call their free number 1800 226 226 or visit their website.

Western Australia The Western Australian Government offers help and support in the event of a natural disaster. The natural disasters page on their website has details of specific support services available depending on the event you might be experiencing.

If you’re experiencing a natural disaster and need the help of a translator or interpreter to access any of the services listed, Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) can offer support during this time.  You can contact TIS National’s 24/7 support line directly on 131 450.

What are some other disaster relief services in Australia that can support me?

Mental health support services

Your mental health can be impacted when you’re experiencing a natural disaster and you may feel anxiety, stress, grief or loss.

Organisations that can help with your mental health and wellbeing during this time include Beyond Blue, Kids Helpline, Lifeline and headspace

Free financial support services

Another source of stress during a natural disaster is lack of money. It’s helpful to know that you can contact your bank to see what short-term disaster support you and your family may be eligible for. (Think things like payment relief on loans or waiver of fees.)

You can also call the National Debt Helpline if you’re experiencing financial difficulty during a natural disaster. Free call 1800 007 007 to access their services. 

The Mob Strong Debt Helpline is a free service about money matters for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that can also be used during times of a natural disaster or emergency. Free call 1800 808 488 to access their services.

Which natural disasters are supported by the Australian Government disaster recovery payment scheme?

The Australian Government’s disaster recovery payment scheme provides financial assistance to individuals and families affected by bushfires, floods and other declared natural disasters. The scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible people to help them recover from a disaster.

If you have been affected by a bushfire, flood or cyclone you may be eligible for the following recovery payment and funding options:

  • Disaster Recovery Payment. One-off payments to those who have been adversely affected by a major disaster either in Australia or overseas.

  • Disaster Recovery Allowance. Short-term income assistance (for up to 13 weeks) if you’ve lost income as a result of a declared disaster.

Visit Services Australia to learn more about disaster payments you may be able to claim.

If you’re experiencing a natural disaster and feeling overwhelmed, remember that there are services and people who are here to provide you with support during this time. 

  • Chat to a peer worker through ReachOut’s free PeerChat service.

  • Connect with other young people in the ReachOut Online Community.

  • If you need mental health support here are some tips on how to find professional help.